Ferry Tales: Ferry Manager Adrift Without A Clue

Preposterous! People prevented from getting home. Again!

The road to Guemes Island shut down Saturday night because of staffing shortage? Notice I said “road”. Skagit County Public Works is responsible for keeping the road open, specifically the ferry manager, Rachel Rowe. Where was she when notified about the staffing issue? Did she try to find a solution? Did anyone see her on the dock? Did she work the deck herself? Was the warning issued in a timely manner so that alternate plans could be put in place? Did she call out the Strait Arrow to provide passage? No.

The 'staffing issues' are a direct result of Rachel Rowe's refusal to pay a good wage. Captain Guy Mitchell says "One consequence of that [failure to pay a good wage] is it takes longer for us to respond to after-hours calls, something that sincerely concerns us as maritime professionals. In 2021-22, six deckhands left within a year of training, five for better-paying jobs." What's baffling about the County's refusal to raise wages is that we pay crew salaries, not them. And, if you ask the riders, most would be quite willing to pay the small increase in fares so the crew would be better paid.

Shortly after the ferry returned to service after the haul out, there have been a spate of mechanical issues that made the risk of being stranded on one side or the other all too high. Did anyone see Rachel during those issues? Her decision not to replace the retired mechanic adds hours to the time needed to make repairs.

It's well past time for a ferry manager that actually has the riderships' interest at heart. Someone who cares about people getting home.

That being said, Linda Lewis says it succinctly: "Corey of San Juan Marine was the hero last night. Corey came and took us to Guemes, not for the money, but because “that’s what we do for each other, we help each other out!" That has always been the attitude of the Guemes Ferry crew. Come on ferry management, join the rest of humankind: be both! Trust us, it is a really beautiful way to live! There were four cars that showed up for the 10 pm boat (on the Anacortes side) with no idea it was not going to run. People needed medication. A kindergartner needed to get home. My 10-year-old dog needed to get home. Three cheers for Corey!"

No cheers for Ferry Management. It's time to replace Rachel Rowe.

- Commentary by MJ Andrak

Tags: ferry